HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. (Sept. 21, 2015)— A bus driver with the Hamilton Heights School Corporation was arrested on numerous driving while intoxicated charges following a crash Monday morning.
Janet Kay Shaw, 53, was arrested on eight counts of operating a vehicle while intoxicated with a passenger less than 18 years of age, each as a Level 6 Felony; seven counts of leaving the scene of an accident with bodily injury, each as a Class A Misdemeanor; two counts of possession of a controlled substance, each as a Class A Misdemeanor; and one count of leaving the scene of an accident, a Class B Misdemeanor.
Court documents released in the case say Shaw had three different medication bottles in her purse, including Valium, Soma, and Hydrocodone.
There were 23 students on the bus at the time Shaw was arrested. Seven of those students complained of headaches and other injuries to their school nurse.
"I completely freaked out and I look my window and it's a school bus! That's when I really went into panic mode," said witness Dawn Deering.
According to authorities, concerned parents contacted school officials after students on the bus alerted them from their cell phones. Initial investigation revealed the Hamilton Heights bus was driving southbound on Leonard Road at 286th Street, east of State Road 19, when the bus drove off the roadway. Investigators estimate the bus was traveling at approximately 40 miles per hour.
"I heard the crash and the power went out," said witness Dawn Deering.
Several power outages were reported.
"A big green spark flew in front of me," said 7th grade student Noah Chapman.
Chapman says he was the next stop on the route. He was waiting outside of his house when he witnessed the crashed. However, he decided not to board.
"I just didn't want to get on it after I saw what happened," said Chapman.
The school bus struck a wire to a utility pole and then along the edge of the road before returning back to the pavement. School officials say Shaw was removed from the bus immediately when the bus arrived to Hamilton Heights Middle School.
"Anytime we have a bus driver on the bus we expect them first and foremost to consider the safety of our students and clearly this driver did not do that," said Superintendent Derek Arrowood.
Shaw has been suspended and Arrowood says termination will be recommended.
"This is one incident where a lady who clearly had some challenges with prescription drugs chose to take too many and drive impaired," said Arrowood.
Students on the bus were treated for headaches, minor aches and pains. Twenty-one middle school and high school students were aboard at the time of the crash. No serious injuries were reported, and the bus sustained minor damage.
HHSC released the following statement:
Hamilton Heights School Corporation immediately suspended an HHCS employee, bus driver Jan Shaw this morning, and will present a recommendation for her termination of employment at the next HHSC Board School Trustees meeting.
The employee had been a bus driver for HHSC since 2001. As with all bus drivers at HHSC and at districts across Indiana, she was subject to mandatory random drug testing screenings. She had passed all previous drug screenings.
All students who were on the bus successfully completed the school day. As soon as we were aware of the incident, we contacted all parents of students on the bus.
We are thankful that parents contacted HHSC to let us know of the incident, so that the driver could be removed from the route immediately.
As always, the safety and security of our students at Hamilton Heights is our number one priority.